Rupert Murdoch leads Fox News shake-up as network loses Trump supporters

Josie Ensor
·2-min read
Chris Wallace, Fox News anchor, is displayed on a monitor during an election night party in the East Room of the White House 
Chris Wallace, Fox News anchor, is displayed on a monitor during an election night party in the East Room of the White House
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USA homepage and article bar

Rupert Murdoch has carried out a shake-up of Fox News, with some senior staff fired, amid reports the cable TV network lost viewers following its decision to call the state of Arizona for Joe Biden on Election Day.

Bill Sammon, 62, Fox News Channel’s senior vice president who oversaw its “decision desk” on November 3, this week announced he would be taking retirement.

Some 20 other staff members have been fired, including Chris Stirewalt, the veteran politics editor who was the onscreen face of the Arizona call, which enraged the Trump campaign and altered the narrative of election night media coverage.

According to the Washington Post, Mr Murdoch told colleagues that the way Fox handled the call caused reputational damage and drove away some of Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters.

Some of its more opinionated hosts, including Maria Bartiromo, who has called the election “fraudulent”, and Brian Kilmeade, have also been given primetime 7pm slots, replacing the usual news programming as part of wider shift toward conservative-leaning punditry.

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Fox News, the jewel in Mr Murdoch’s cable TV empire, is reported to be haemorrhaging pro-Trump viewers who have balked at the network, which was the earliest to project a win for Mr Biden in Arizona - an historically red state.

CNN has beaten Fox News in viewership over the past few weeks, according to Nielsen. Both left-leaning CNN and MSNBC have seen considerable audience growth since the election, as viewers gravitate to those cable outlets for coverage of the transition from Mr Trump to Mr Biden.

The 89-year-old media mogul, whose family controls Fox’s parent company, has been taking a more active interest in its programming in the wake of the election.

His youngest son James, last week publicly attacked "media property owners" and news outlets for their role in promoting false election claims that helped lead to the deadly riots in the US Capitol last week.

"Those outlets that propagate lies to their audience have unleashed insidious and uncontrollable forces that will be with us for years," he told the FT.

A Fox network spokesperson said in a statement that it had “realigned its business and reporting structure to meet the demands of this new era” in the aftermath of the 2020 election cycle.

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